Medical Negligence: Cerebral Palsy*

What is cerebral palsy? 

The term cerebral palsy is used to describe a medical condition that affects a person’s movements, muscle tone and co- ordination.  It is caused by an injury to the brain, before, during or shortly after birth.  It is a life altering injury and can affect all activities of daily living.

There are different types of cerebral palsy, which can be divided into four broad categories:

  1. Spastic Cerebral Palsy
  2. Dyskinetic Cerebral Palsy
  3. Ataxic Cerebral Palsy
  4. Mixed Cerebral Palsy

Signs and symptoms

The majority of infants born with cerebral palsy do not show obvious signs straight away.  Generally, cerebral palsy becomes evident when the baby does not, for example, meet developmental milestones such as sitting up alone/crawling/walking. Observations and evidence of inconsistent muscle tone, poor visual attention, motor development delay or motor impairment or speech problems can be indicators of cerebral palsy.  Sometimes a child will be 2 or 3 years of age when it becomes evident and physicians give a diagnosis.  There is unfortunately, no cure available. 

The investigation

The question is if competent care had been provided could the injury to the brain have been avoided or at least significantly reduced?  It is important to note that there are non-negligent cases of where a baby has cerebral palsy and it is not due to the negligent management of a mother’s pregnancy or delivery.   

Some negligent cases have arisen from the following situations:

  • Failure of medical personnel to deal with an abnormal CGT Trace which was showing foetal distress
  • Misuse of medical personnel of oxytocin / Syntocinon
  • Leaving baby in birth canal for too long leading to lack of oxygen
  • Failure to schedule and/or perform Caesarean Section at all /or in a timely manner
  • Failure of medical personnel to monitor and / or appreciate decelerations in the infant’s heart rate on a CTG Trace
  • Improper use of forceps or vacuum delivery during infants’ birth

A parent can make a claim on the child’s behalf.  The date of injury is the date of birth.  The two-year limitation limit for making a claim does not begin until the child turns 18 years of age. 

A successful Court award / settlement amount can fund, for example, the following:  

  • Specialist care and therapy
  • speech and language,
  • equipment
  • occupational therapy,
  • intensive physiotherapy
  • Appropriate long-term treatment, rehabilitation and care. 
  • Assistive technology and future care requirements

How we can help

If you are considering proceeding with a case, we will on receiving instructions take up a copy of the medical records in order to investigate the matter.  We will consult a medical expert to determine whether there was negligence involved.  It is a complex area of law and the expert involved will analyse and comment on the medical records and indicate whether there was substandard care and/or breach of duty. We generally seek a report from a medical expert outside of Ireland.    

Our Serious Injury Department specialises in birth injuries and cerebral palsy and can help you achieve adequate compensation for the injured child.

 

*In contentious business, a solicitor may not calculate fees or other charges as a percentage or proportion of any award or settlement.

Áine McSweeney, Solicitor
Áine McSweeney, Solicitor
Contact Áine

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